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4,000 Infants Dead in Kashmir

Family mourns the death of their infant. Photo courtesy of the Global Press Institute.

Family mourns the death of their infant. Photo courtesy of the Global Press Institute.

In Kashmir, the babies are dying. Since 2008, over 4,000 babies have died in the government run children’s hospital—Govind Ballabh Pant. Despite numerous government investigations, a complete change in administration, and massive civilian protests—no one has gotten to the bottom of why these babies continue to die. Aliya Bashir, a senior multimedia reporter with the Global Press Institute based in Indian-Administered Kashmir, discusses her work, covering infant mortality in Kashmir. This segment first aired on KPFA’s La Onda Bajita.

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Kunan Poshpora Mass Rape Investigation in Kashmir

HumaDar

UC Berkeley lecturer, Huma Dar, discusses the recent court decision that is forcing the police in Kashmir to reinvestigate the 22-year-old gang rape case that took place in Kunan Poshpora in the Kupwara district of Indian administered Kashmir. There have been no convictions to date—after 22 years the victims have again taken their plea back to the court which is requiring further investigation. This edition of Kashmir Speaks aired on KPFA’s La Onda Bajita. The segment features Rasheed Jahangir’s song, Mayi Chani Rawam Raat Doh.

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Syeda Begum

Syeda shows pictures of her dead son.

Syeda shows pictures of her dead son.

I met Seyda at her house in Srinagar. We interviewed her in the courtyard then moved into her one room dwelling for the recording. She spoke Kashmiri and I could understand very few of her words. I heard her story in translation and interviewed her with the help of Syed Asma, Umar Beigh and Parvaiz Bukhari. What I understood deeply were her tears, a sorrow too deep to look at straight on. Below is my interpretation of her story. If I do not capture her words as she said them, at the very least, I hope to reflect a bit of her emotion.

The door is still broken from twenty years ago when they killed my eldest son, Nazir Ahmed. I heard the noise outside and shouted for him to come in. The paramilitaries did not let me out. They came in and broke doors and windows. At that time I did not know he was dead. I went all over the city searching for his body. Finally I found him—prepared for burial.

I keep staring at the door, waiting for it to open, but no one comes. I imagine my sons walking through. My neighbors don’t use the door. They call in from the side. They care for me, bringing me enough food to eat. Oh what would I do without my neighbors? My stomach aches with sickness. My neighbors say I can wake them even in the dead of night if I need help. They have a car and can bring me to the hospital. They are helping me now that my sons and three brothers are all dead.

Even before I was born, my brother was shot through his head in a protest. That bullet followed us one by one. Now I am alone. In three years, three of my sons died, one after another, each year. In these times one could be killed for anything. My youngest son, Tariq, was down by the river, Jhelum. The paramilitaries chased him along the riverbanks. There was nowhere for him to go. So, he jumped in and he drowned. Two days later his body was fished out of the river along with a couple of others. He was 18 years old.

After Tariq and Nazir died, my son Ishtiyaq started keeping the company of militants. I don’t know if he was a gunman, but he was with militants. He watched his brothers be killed for nothing, just for being alive. This is how it is. You can be killed for anything. I did not see my son much. He would only come to visit every once in a while. The military would come to our house looking for him. Ishtiyaq was killed in a gun battle between the army and militants. He was hit with a burst of fire across his chest, the copy of a pocket Quaran he was carrying on him was torn by bullets his chest received. I found him dead and identified the body at the police station. I brought the body home and buried the body. I felt the light in my eyes fading. Darkness.

Nisar, my last son left living, lost his mind. He would wake up screaming in the middle of the night so often that the neighbors would complain. It got so bad that he would just go outside naked and screaming. I had no idea what to do. Finally, I brought Nisar to the psychiatric hospital. They put him on medicines, but nothing helped him. Then one day he disappeared. He left home naked and never returned. I never heard or saw from him again. If he were alive, he would have definitely come back to me. He is disappeared.

Some seven years ago, I went to see some distant relatives at the hospital who had twins—a boy and a girl. They are poor and asked me to take the baby boy with me for company. I raised Moshin as my own. He will perhaps go back to his own parents when I die. What else can he do? He tells me that he will stay with the neighbors after I die. They bring us food enough for the both of us.

I spin yarn sometimes. But I never ask anyone for anything. Nothing will ever change here because whatever people do, it is India that always wins.

All four of my sons and my husband are gone. All my brothers have died. Whenever I hear noise, I just go in my house, close it up and sit alone in the dark. I sit and stare at the door and no one comes.

Yasin Malik Arrested before Hunger Strike

Maqbool Bhat's mother, holding a picture of her dead son at a protest on May 3 in Delhi.

Yasin Malik, the chairman of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front, called for a hunger strike in New Delhi to draw attention to the thousands of disappeared people in Kashmir. Yasin Malik was taken into “preventative custody” by the Delhi police hours after this interview, explaining the demands of the hunger strike was recorded. According to the Kashmir Reader, Malik suffered from a cervical fracture after being manhandled by Delhi police. Yasin Malik was then forced to take a plane back to Kashmir. 150 mothers, children and other supporters of Kashmir’s disappeared marched on May 3 in Delhi. They were met by a fierce, oppressive police presence.

Yasin Malik was the commander-and-chief of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front and spent over ten years in prison. He was instrumental in calling for the cease-fire and building the strong nonviolent resistance in Kashmir. This interview first aired on KPFA’s La Onda Bajita.

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Protest Music on the Execution of Afzal Guru

Afzal_Guru

Afzal Guru was executed by the Indian government on February 9 in New Delhi’s Tihar Jail.
Executions are extremely rare in India. Afzal Guru was charged and convicted of the 2001 parliament attack in Delhi. Afzal Guru was hung after his final plea for clemency was rejected. Since his execution there have been massive protests. In March the Kashimr Walla reported 4 deaths and 350 civilian injuries resulting from protests against his execution. The protests around Azfal Guru’s execution are taking many forms, including protest songs. On Kashmir Speaks, Mumbai-based hip hop artist Ashwini Mishra discusses his song “True Lies: Tales of Afzal Guru.” This segment aired on KPFA’s La Onda Bajita.

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Disappeared in Kashmir

Mughal Mass spent 22 years searching for her son, Nazir Ahmed. In 2009, she passed away, her son was never found.

Mughal Mass spent 22 years searching for her son, Nazir Ahmed. In 2009, she passed away, her son was never found.

Former BBC journalist, Ather Zia, discusses her research on the disappeared in Kashmir. From 1989 to 2011 there have been 8,000 disappearances and 70,000 deaths of Kashmiris resulting from the Indian occupation. Ather Zia is also the editor of Kashmir Lit. This segment of Kashmir Speaks aired on KPFA’s La Onda Bajita. Music is by MC Kash.

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Alleged Perpetrators–Unsolved Crimes of Kashmir

In December 2012, a new report was released in Kashmir, investigating the evidence of unsolved human rights crimes. Based on the evidence, the report identifies and names the alleged perpetrators of the crimes, including 235 army personnel.The report was released by the International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir. Kartik Murukutla a lawyer and former UN worker discusses the report.

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Kashmir Protests on Human Rights Day

On Kashmir Speaks Huma Dar discusses the December 10 strikes and protest that took place in Kashmir to mark International Human Rights Day. In addition, Huma Dar discusses the media black out on the report Alleged Perpetrators that compiles evidence and names alleged perpetrators of human rights crimes in Kashmir. Also, Huma Dar reads some poetry written by Agha Shahid Ali. Huma Dar is a lecturer in the Asian American & Asian Diasporas Studies Program of Ethnic Studies Dept. at UC Berkeley. Music by MC Kash and Mohammed Muneem. This segment first aired on La Onda Bajita, KPFA.

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Social Media Censored in Kashmir

On Kashmir Speaks on KPFA Mohammed Junaid, a Kashmiri anthropologist, discusses how the Indian authorities suppress social media in Kashmir. Mohammed Junaid goes on to discuss the impact of social media on the nonviolent independence movement in Kashmir. Then Naima Shalhoub, Oakland based singer and song writer, performs her song dedicated to the people of Kashmir. Naima Shalhoub discusses her inspiration for the song. Then a song by MC Kash.

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Jashn-e-azadi

On Kashmir Speaks, independent film-maker Sanjay Kak discusses his most recent film: Jashn e Azadi (How we celebrate freedom). Sanjay Kak shot the documentary with a two-person crew in the most densely militarized land on earth. Sanjay Kak is also the editor of Until My Freedom Has Come: the new intifada in Kashmir, which will be released in the US in November 2012.

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